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26 March 2018

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BabelFish

Should our species have known that our burgeoning populations, our prodigious gains communications and our ever increasing technology would allow not only genius to achieve spectacular things but would also allow evil to create horror on a scale that still beggars belief all these many decades later? I believe the next Stalin, Hitler, Tamerlane or Pol Pot is already born, just waiting for our resolve to wander.

As always, Thank you for this message, Richard.

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

Only "Heartlessness" could have prepared USSR for the coming war and winning it against the Third Reich; which bestrode a continent and used its entire resources to wage war on the Eastern Front.

"Kant taught that human beings have an inherent value", funny!

We owe that insight actually to Zoroaster.

Eric Newhill

Richard,
Excellent primer on the progressive/democrat party in today's America.

Jose

Our destiny is to heal and love each other. It’s as simple as that.

Disagree, modern politics has evolved into simply hating your opposition more than they hate you.

Imagine

The Pentateuch is full of wars of genocide. The victorious Hebrews against inconvenient indigenous people. So the hypothesis that early wars were fought for conquest not spite seems incorrect.

Humans seem to have a Darwinian instinct to stomp "snakes".

The Stanford Prison Experiment shows that ordinary humans have a demonic component inherent, which delights in torturing those who are "bad" or "inferior". When authority (secret agencies) or culture (KKK) or habit (plebe hazing) remove the normal civilization inhibitions against torture, the sky's the limit into how creatively evil regular people can become.

Then people who are good will choose to protest or not participate; but people who are normal will follow the lead of the regular people around them, and do what everyone else is doing.

Naturally this causes lynch-mob behavior, as was evident in the wars against Saddam, and is being stoked now in Britain against Russia.

I don't know yet how to counter this.

Lyttenburgh

“What emerges is a horrifying character that began as a bank robber and ended as a mass executioner and the instigator of man- made famines that killed millions.”

It is good to know that supposedly “accurate” historical documentary made in the West are completely useless propaganda drivels, because:

a) Stalin never robbed banks. So-called “Tiflis’s’ expropriation” of 26 June 1907 had been carried out by the group under Simon “Kamo” Ter-Petrosyan. Stalin was arrested in 1908 and back then the Czarist authorities did not accuse him of bank robbing – he was “political prisoner”. There is absolutely NO evidence whatsoever that Stalin was a bandit.

b) Stalin was not a “mass executioner”. The state wields the monopoly over violence.

c) Man-made nature of the so-called Holodomor is a myth, disproved many times over.

Good to know, that propaganda quality of the Western “blue screen” is effective enough to convince people of the “correct” narrative and switch off any critical thinking. Useful for the current times.

“There are no official reports about the height of Joseph Stalin because Stalin was sensitive about it; he went to great lengths to conceal his lack of stature from the Soviet people and the world because he stood only at 5 feet 4 or 5 feet 5”

Please, explain – how he “concealed” it? Was the state officials back in 1920-50 required to post their height somewhere for everyone to see?

“He was an un-attractive man with his pockmarked face, bad teeth, his limp, and his withered left arm yet his deepest ambition was to develop his country, weaken or kill rivals and have his image plastered on every public building.”

How do YOU know what Stalin wanted? That’s a speculation. And as badmouthing his appearance – yeah, kudos to you! You did it!

“But from those things he learned little. He lacked refinement, elegance, social polish, and compassion.”

Again, I have to ask – who’s claiming this? Who do you know that he “learned little”? How do you know that “his selfish self-worship led his soul by the nose”? You are passing soundbites from that show for the facts…

“But Stalin was a spiritual primitive. He lived in a society where having a conscience was seen as a vulnerability, not a strength.”

First of all – define the term “a spiritual primitive”. Next – what society are you talking about here? The Soviet Union?

“That’s how Stalin’s mind worked.”

You keep saying this. How do you, James, know how Stalin’s mind worked? Are you ESPer?

TL;DR – the entire post by James is one gigantic propaganda pastiche of myths and slander, that no serious historian would ever repeat with clean conscience – only propagandists with a clear and present agenda. A person who can repeat with a straight face a clear and many times disproven lie that:

“Of course, the day after Hitler invaded his country, June 22, 1941, Stalin broke down and for several days was so drunk on brandy and vodka that he was not able to function.”

becomes guilty of lying himself. You, James, are no better than all those propagandists and no-brains that you were decrying in your past blogposts. Instead of thinking and researching, instead of trying to find the truth, you repeat lies and suppress any urge in others to see the reality as it is.

P.S. Oh, and one more thing:

“Communism reduced people to animals: they were merely food.”

What about capitalism then? Or maybe you are projecting here?

Daniel A Lynch

Agree with many of Harper's observations on the sociopathic personality, and on the importance of empathy, but then he loses me at "When President Reagan said that the Soviet state was an “evil empire” many objected, including me. But the more I learn, the more I endorse that judgment. Communism reduced people to animals."

But did communism had anything to do with it? Was Hitler a communist? Woodrow Wilson? Christopher Columbus? Churchill? Jefferson Davis? Was life wonderful in pre-Soviet Russia?

Today many Russians view Stalin positively. He industrialized the USSR, defeated the fascists, and made Russia a world power. While the West was mired in the Great Depression, Russia's economy hummed. We should acknowledge Stalin's mistakes, but we should also acknowledge that the poor and the working class may have been better off under Stalin than they had been before. Admittedly that may not be saying much.

Jony Kanuck

Richard,

A meditation on sociopaths enjoying absolute power is timely. I read this morning that John Bolton is almost surely a sociopath. He's scary close to exercising major power.

Stalin & Hitler were both a product of their time: After a couple years of the great depression, no one was speaking up for liberal democracy. Communist & fascist totalitarianism was new, new, gonna fix everything (sic).

It's a good thing Stalin was a bastard, things got really bad in 1941/42. Lesser men might have tried to do a deal with Hitler but they & a lot of good men had already been purged. To beat the Germans, the Soviets had 320 divisions in the line at armistice.

For good recent scholarship on Stalin: "Stalin's Wars" by Geoffrey Roberts. For an opinion on Zhukov read David M Glantz; too many frontal attacks.

raven

Bullshit, tell that to Bolton

b

What a load of ahistorical propaganda crap. Pretty disgusting to see such nonsense posted here.

How about some facts about Stalin. Did the man described have any achievements? I don't see any mentioned here. Only the repetition of long debunked falsehoods and personal opinion of someone who obviously lacks knowledge of the subject he blabbers about.

What a waste of time.

Stefan

The way I see it, thinking of Stalin as a heartless beast in order to understand the developments in the Soviet Union in the first half of the 20th century does two things for us:

1) it provides a simple answer to the question: how could these horrific evil atrocities take place?

2) it puts our mind at ease, thinking that if only people would be more moral or good, everything would be different.

The question why things developed as they did in Russia is not a trivial one, however it is also not a question that's beyond our understanding. In fact, plenty of serious answers have been provided over the years.

It's impossible to understand Stalinism without reference to world economic developments during the interwar period (collapse of the balance-of-power in Europe, the demise of the liberal economic order, the agrarian depression which affected the terms of barter between town and countryside unfavorably leading to huge antagonism of the peasantry to the rule of the urban workers in Russia)(see Polanyi, 1944: 255-256 for details).

If you want an answer that can explain the path towards the horrors of Stalinism and also fit into a tweet, here is one:

autarchy >> New Economic Policy >> crises and global depression >> Stalinism

It is still a bit longer than the usual - Stalin was a murderous lunatic thirsty for blood.

p.s. He was a murderer but definitely not a unattractive one. Google any picture of Stalin in his youth and you will be convinced :)

Walrus

Stalin was certainly unattractive as a person, ruthless and cynical but not stupid. However rotten his methods (and they were rotten) I think you have to make allowances for the environment Stalin and the bolsheviks faced in governing Russia.

Their driving need was to transform a huge backward country that had been largely populated by illiterate serfs - slaves less that Sixty years before the revolution that replaced an imperial government which itself was dissolute, corrupt and almost as brutal as Stalin. Desperate times called for desperate measures. There were no "democratic traditions' as we like to call them, brutality was the usual form of regulation in Russia and social institutions of government were not strong. Russian infrastructure was generations behind the West.

We could catalogue for hours the stupid inhuman brutality of the Bolshevik regime before WWII and the personal foibles of Stalin (his devotion to the crackpot agricultural theories of Lysenko - "vernalisation", etc. were responsible for starvation), we can endlessly examine the crimes of Beria and company, but we cannot obtain a full picture of Stalin without considering the challenges he faced.

wisedupearly Ceo

Objectivism does seem to be identical to selfishness and so is antithetical to the armed forces.
The costs involved in "teaching" selfishlessness appear to be extremely high but the costs of not doing so are incalculable.

kgw

Sounds like an Israeli story I read...It said that you should never give an old lady/man your seat on the bus, or the other people will know you are a fool...

richard sale

Thank you.

Richard

richard sale

I agree.

Richard

catherine

''but we cannot obtain a full picture of Stalin without considering the challenges he faced.''

Yes we can. Its in how he handled those challenges.

turcopolier

b

It is clear that you don't like Richard's essay. "Did the man described have any achievements?" What achievements would you attribute to him other than the defeat of Germany? pl

turcopolier

raven

What is it that you say "bullshit" to? Richard's essay? And who would say anything to John Bolton? I haven't heard from any admirers of his here. pl

catherine


I like this essay.
A Jesuit, on loan from Georgetown, teaching one of my college classes once told me... 'not all people are born good'. I was shocked at first since that wasn't what we were taught in religious kindergarten. Later I thought about the now proven abnormality in a section of the brain of psychopaths and agree he was right.

Richardstevenhack

Humans are primates. Thus, they are stupid, ignorant, malicious and fearful - mostly the latter. Pretty much explains everything in human history.

I subscribe to the concept of survival at any cost. But in a rational society that would entail being aware of the long-term consequences. This, however, is not a rational society.

Off topic - or maybe not given the topic of human heartlessness - here we have John Bolton:

Here’s John Bolton Promising Regime Change in Iran by the End of 2018
https://theintercept.com/2018/03/23/heres-john-bolton-promising-regime-change-iran-end-2018/

Apparently he told the M.E.K. cult that the US would end Iran's leadership before the 40 year anniversary which is February 11, 2019.

That of course is absurd unless somehow the US manages to decapitate the Iranian leadership with an airstrike or nuclear attack. What actually will happen if the US attacks Iran is that Iran will fight for the next several decades until the US backs off. There is no chance short of nuclear bombardment for the US to "defeat" Iran. The US couldn't even "defeat" Iraq in less than five years and hasn't defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan in 17 years. Iran will be a far harder nut to crack than either of those.

Lobe Log has published a "John Bolton: The Essential Profile" which covers this lunatic.
http://lobelog.com/john-bolton-the-essential-profile/

Of note in that piece is how many diplomats both within the US State Department and the EU explicitly state they can't stand the guy.

turcopolier

b et al

- b. I have long puzzled over the source of your hostility to NATO and especially the US. Your spirited defense of Stalin and denunciation of Sale for daring to state the obvious concerning the demonic nature of the man makes the source of your hostility clear.

It is surprising how many Stalin admirers have risen to the surface in response to Sale's piece. I have deleted a number of the most malevolent including one written from the Basque country of Spain that is obviously the troll Fatima Manoubia in a new incarnation. It is now clear that trolling tools are being used against SST to spoof IP and e-mail addresses. pl

Eric Newhill

Sir,
I believe Raven is saying "bullshit" to my comparison of what Richard describes to the methods and mindset of the so called "progressives" in current day USA.

The Bolton part of Raven's comment I cannot translate. I don't like the man and am disappointed that Trump has given him an important role in the administration. I also don't see how Bolton's existence negates what the progressive movement is really all about. It is, of course, possible for two different evils to co-exist. Bolton is not like Stalin. He is more of a hyper-nationalist mad dog that believes in exerting US/Israeli policy the force of arms. That is very different than what the left believes and wants to do. I will agree that both result in death, though.

Cvillereader

We aren’t bugs, but neither are we atomistic individuals.

We are persons, and all persons have relationships with other persons.

BrotherJoe

Brother Daniel,
The argument that he made Russia better thru industrialization would have great merit if his way of doing it was the only way; the United States industrialized thru foreign investment and avoided much of the brutality of the Soviet regime.

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